Getting the Most Out of Your NIH Career Symposium Experience

Post written by a guest blogger Lillian Kuo, Postdoc at NCI.

It’s time for the 5th Annual NIH Career Symposium on Friday May 18th, 2012!  This is an action-packed day of panel speakers and skills blitzes to provide insights into the myriad of professional career options for biomedical scientists.  Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of the event.

 Before the Symposium:

  • Take a look at the Agenda and decide which panels and skills blitzes you’d like to attend.  Use the Panel Descriptions to give you an idea of the topics that will be covered.
  • Look at the list of panelists and prepare a list of questions you would like to ask. Please remember that this is not a job fair.  This is an opportunity for you to gain information about your next step in your career.
  • Keep an open mind!

During the Event:

  • Attend the Keynote Leadership Panel:  To get your juices going, we have an esteemed Panel of Leaders to kick-off this great day.  This panel of brilliantly accomplished and experienced scientists will share with you their success stories and provide you with encouragement and advice as you embark on your scientific career journey.
  • Are you interested in academics?  The academic sessions will guide you through all the big steps to achieving your goal to be an academic scientist.  First, you’ll learn about how to prepare for the plunge into the academic search process.  The next sessions will walk you through job packet and interview preparation, and how to negotiate and transition into your fledgling academic position.
  • Are you looking for careers away from the bench?  A plethora of non-bench careers will be covered including: regulatory affairs, scientific administration, medical writing, grants management, technology transfer, consulting, and strategic planning, just to name a few.  Even more exciting, the panel sessions are organized by scientific theme, so you can learn about how you can utilize your scientific training in “Protecting Public Health” or “Scientific Innovation.”
  • Do you want to work in industry?  This year’s industrial sessions have been designed and constructed around the steps in discovering, developing and launching a new drug.  Panelists will describe the industry jobs available to you from the initial research and development stage through marketing and selling a new drug.
  • But wait, there’s more…  Are you still uncertain or are looking for general career guidance?  The OITE Career Services team will provide an informal and interactive session to answer any of your questions and help point you in the right direction.  Finally, the 14 Skills Blitzes are the most exciting part of the day as you get a whirlwind tour of the skills you need for your career development plan.
  • Network, Network, Network:  Regardless of what sessions you attend or what career path you are pursuing, this event is a great opportunity to make contacts in different fields.  Rooms will be available for you to meet the panelists and speakers in person.  Exchange business cards and set up informational interviews.

After the Symposium:

  • Follow-up with people you have met.  The OITE has great resources to help you make that cold contact and utilize proper email etiquette.
  • Be bold. Set up informational interviews with someone in your field of interest.  Ask to meet again in person. 
  • Practice what you learned.  Utilize what you learned from the panelists and in the Skills Blitzes.